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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Tetrarchy| ▸ |Diocletian||View Options:  |  |  |   

Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D.

Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus was a man of humble birth who rose through the Roman military ranks on pure talent. Becoming emperor after the assassination of Carinus, Diocletian introduced many reforms that prolonged the life of the Empire, which was on the verge of total collapse before his reign. These reforms, however, eliminated most personal freedoms and turned much of the population into hereditary serfs. Diocletian was the first Roman emperor to voluntarily abdicate. He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending his vegetable gardens. His palace went on to become the core of the modern day city of Split.


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The Sisak Hoard of more than 2000 silver argentei, most of them mint-state, plus silver vessels, was found in 1953 near Siscia (Croatia). Still today, nearly all the high grade early argentei of the early tetrarchy on the market came from this hoard. The deposition of the hoard can be placed in the year 295/296.
SH53598. Silver argenteus, Sisak Hoard 41c, RIC VI Siscia 19a, RSC V 488e, Superb EF, weight 2.969 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 295 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETI-ANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORI-A SARMAT, the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway of six-turreted enclosure; ex H. S. Perlin Co., 1988; sharp high-relief masterpiece portrait, exceptional strike, beautiful rainbow iridescent toning, from the 1953 Sisak hoard; SOLD


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The Sarmatians were a large confederation of Iranian people during classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. They spoke Scythian, an Indo-European language from the Eastern Iranian family. The Sarmatians moved to an area called Sarmatia; east of Germania and north of the immediate vicinity of the Danube. These barbarous and little know tribes also occupied the vast tracts of modern Russia. In the autumn of 285, in the Balkans, Diocletian encountered a tribe of Sarmatians who demanded assistance. The Sarmatians requested he either help them recover their lost lands or grant them pasturage rights within the empire. Diocletian refused and fought a battle with them, but was unable to secure a complete victory. The Sarmatians would have to be fought again. In 288, Diocletian managed what was probably another rapid campaign against the resurgent Sarmatians. No details survive, but surviving inscriptions indicate that Diocletian took the title Sarmaticus Maximus after 289.
SH21639. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Rome 19a, RSC V 488e, cf. SRCV IV 12612 (Trier, Rome noted), Hunter V -, superb EF, lustrous, excellent centering and strike, weight 3.312 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 294 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA SARMAT (victory over the Sarmatians), the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway of six-turreted enclosure; SOLD


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SH34985. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Treveri 102a (R4), RSC V 516a, cf. SRCV IV 12617 (Siscia, Trier noted), Hunter V -, Choice EF, weight 3.301 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Treveri (Trier) mint, 294 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETI-ANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway in eight-turreted fortress enclosure; well struck, perfectly centered - a fantastic example of the type; very rare (R4); SOLD


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The Sarmatians were a large confederation of Iranian people during classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. They spoke Scythian, an Indo-European language from the Eastern Iranian family. The Sarmatians moved to an area called Sarmatia; east of Germania and north of the immediate vicinity of the Danube. These barbarous and little know tribes also occupied the vast tracts of modern Russia. In the autumn of 285, in the Balkans, Diocletian encountered a tribe of Sarmatians who demanded assistance. The Sarmatians requested he either help them recover their lost lands or grant them pasturage rights within the empire. Diocletian refused and fought a battle with them, but was unable to secure a complete victory. The Sarmatians would have to be fought again. In 288, Diocletian managed what was probably another rapid campaign against the resurgent Sarmatians. No details survive, but surviving inscriptions indicate that Diocletian took the title Sarmaticus Maximus after 289.
SH87625. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Heraclea 6 (R3), RSC V 488j, cf. SRCV IV 12612 (Trier, Heraclea noted), Hunter IV -, Choice EF, bold full circles strike, excellent portrait, toned, small dark spots, weight 3.138 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Heraclea (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, 294 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA SARMAT (Victory over the Sarmatians), the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway in six-turreted fortress enclosure, HA in exergue; very rare (R4); SOLD


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Diocletian created the tetrarchy to provide leadership for the armies defending against threats across the great expanse of the Roman Empire. Around the time this coin was struck, the two emperors and two caesars faced Franks in Britain, Berbers and Frankish Pirates in Mauritania, a rebellion in Egypt, and Sasanians in Armenia and Persia.
SH87290. Silver argenteus, Hunter V 34 (also 2nd officina), RIC VI Rome 40a (S), RSC V 516†g, cf. SRCV IV 12617 (Siscia, Rome issue noted), Choice EF, mirror luster, perfect centering, nice portrait, radiating flow lines, slightest die wear, weight 3.281 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Rome mint, 295 - 297 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), two emperors and two caesars sacrificing over a tripod before archway of six-turreted enclosure, B in exergue; scarce; SOLD


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SH21638. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Rome 27a (R), RSC V 516e, cf. SRCV IV 12617 (Siscia, Rome noted), Hunter V -, Choice aMS, weight 3.064 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 294 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETI-ANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway of six-turreted enclosure; lustrous, full circle strike on both obverse and reverse; SOLD


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In theory, the Roman Empire was not divided by the dual imperium of Diocletian and Maximian. Each emperor had his own court, army, and official residences, but these were matters of practicality, not substance. Imperial propaganda insisted on a singular and indivisible Rome, a patrimonium indivisum. Legal rulings were given and imperial celebrations took place in both emperors' names, and the same coins were issued in both parts of the empire. Diocletian sometimes issued commands to Maximian's province of Africa; Maximian could presumably have done the same for Diocletian's territory.
SH04615. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Antiochia 37a (R4), RSC V 520g, cf. SRCV IV 12618 (Serdica, Antioch noted), Hunter V -, superb aEF, weight 3.24 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 350o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 297 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), Campgate with three turrets and no doors, *ANTH in exergue; very rare (R4); SOLD


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In 302, Diocletian began passing laws against Christians and a policy of religious oppression in Antioch.
SH63407. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Thessalonica 15a (R4), RSC V 520d, cf. SRCV IV 12618 (Serdica), Hunter V -, VF, nice metal for the type, toned, some scratches, weight 3.192 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, c. 302 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETI-ANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), campgate with three turrets, •T•S•A• in exergue; ex Forum (2006); rare; SOLD


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SH42180. Silver argenteus, RIC VI Rome 27a (R), RSC V 516e, cf. SRCV IV 12617 (Siscia, Rome noted), Hunter V -, NGC EF (Forum VF), Rome mint, 294 A.D.; obverse DIOCLETI-ANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS MILITVM (courage of the soldiers), the four princes sacrificing over tripod before archway of city or legionary camp with six turrets; NGC Certified Extremely Fine (slabbed); SOLD


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SH56943. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 177, aVF, weight 3.407 g, maximum diameter 23.0 mm, die axis 00o, 4th officina, Rome mint, 293 - 295 A.D.; obverse IMP DIOCLETIANVS AVG, radiate bust left, wearing imperial mantle, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse PRIMIS X MVLTIS XX, Victory standing left, foot on helmet, inscribing VOT X on shield set on palm tree, R right, XXI∆ in exergue; extremely rare; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

DIOCLETIANVSAVG
DIOCLETIANVSPAVG
DIOCLETIANVSAVGVSTVS
DIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
DNDIOCLETIANOBAEATIS
DNDIOCLETIANOFELICIS
DNDIOCLETIANOFELICISSIMOSENAVG
DNDIOCLETIANOPFSAVG
IMPCCVALDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
IMPCDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
IMPDIOCLETIANVSAVG
IMPDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG


REFERENCES|

Bastien, P. Le monnayage de I'atelier de Lyon, Diocletien et ses coregents avant la reforme monetaire (285 - 294). Numismatique Romaine VII. (Wetteren, 1972).
Bastien, P. Le Monnayage de l'Atelier de Lyon, De la Réforme Monétaire de Dioclétien à la fermeture temporaire de l'Atelier en 316 (294 - 316). Numismatique Romaine XI. (Wetteren, 1980).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. Two: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 6: Macrianus to Diocletian & Maximianus. (Paris, 1886).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Diocletien à Constantin I (284-337). Moneta 1. (Wetteren, 1995).
Gnecchi, F. I Medaglioni Romani. (Milan, 1912).
Jelocnik, A. The Sisak Hoard of Argentei of the Early Tetrarchy. (Ljubljana, 1961).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & P. Webb. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol V, |Part| II, Probus to Amandus. (London, 1933).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. IV. Valerian I to Allectus. (Oxford, 1978).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. IV: The Tetrarchies and the Rise of the House of Constantine...Diocletian To Constantine I, AD 284 - 337. (London, 211).
Sutherland, R. & C. Carson. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VI, From Diocletian's reform to the death of Maximinus. (London, 1967).

Catalog current as of Friday, October 18, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Diocletian